Parallel Bars

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ray miller
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Parallel Bars

Post by ray miller » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:03 pm

Morning we assembled to implore
the Lord’s forgiveness and whenever
he could manage it, Bisseker would puncture
solemnity and silence with a fart.
During All Things Bright and Beautiful
the sun fought through the foliage
and the hands that smothered noses
unsettled shafts of golden dust.

Later, after sums or painting,
we’d drink our milk and orange and return
to be exhorted to find ourselves a space.
God was everywhere, but mostly Bach
and Beethoven hung the bars on which we stretched
our infant arabesques. Bisseker walked
upside down, reckless and invasive,
blowing raspberries with a missionary zeal.

One Christmas we were entertained
by a clown and a juggler; I bet he’d doubled
up as Santa at the party that afternoon.
He let us in on the secret: never juggle
objects of dissimilar weight and shape.
Next term’s assemblies were free of gas entirely
and our branches bore little fruit. By then
Bisseker had perished on a visit to the zoo.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by twoleftfeet » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:27 pm

I really enjoy these moments of nostalgia (despite this one being tinged with sadness).

I'm missing the significance of the title here - I seem to recall previous poems where the title was the character's name.
Does bars have anything to do with the zoo at the end?

God was everywhere, but mostly Bach
and Beethoven hung the bars on which we stretched


I love the segue from "space" to "God" and the thought that He's hogging all the space.

Aren't parallel bars supported rather than hung? Or is this what "upside down" refers to?

Thinking back to similar days I would lay odds of
Tchaikovsky 2-1
Chopin 4-1
J S Bach 5-1
Beethoven 10-1
- but some poetic licence is obviously permissible..

I think it might be amusing to cause some confusion by moving "he" from the beginning of S1 L3 back to the end of L2.

Plaudits
Geoff
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by David2 » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:29 pm

twoleftfeet wrote:I really enjoy these moments of nostalgia (despite this one being tinged with sadness).
Me too, although I'm not sure I noticed the sadness. Is that the ending? I thought it was brilliantly black and unexpected. Quite Saki-like. (k-j, correct me if I'm wrong.)
twoleftfeet wrote:I think it might be amusing to cause some confusion by moving "he" from the beginning of S1 L3 back to the end of L2.
I think that ambiguity is there, isn't it? It seems to be a nicely floating he to me, as though God could only rarely manage it.

My major "yes!" moment on the nostalgia this time was
ray miller wrote:to be exhorted to find ourselves a space.
A lot of your stuff deserves to be collected and read as a whole, Ray. This is one of those series.

Cheers

David

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by twoleftfeet » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:51 pm

David2 wrote: My major "yes!" moment on the nostalgia this time was
ray miller wrote:to be exhorted to find ourselves a space.
Too true. It always baffled me - when you've found a space what are you supposed to do with it?
The challenge of moving in unusual ways or copying movements was beyond my abilities - see my username for details.
David2 wrote: A lot of your stuff deserves to be collected and read as a whole, Ray. This is one of those series.
+1
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by 1lankest » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:01 am

hi Ray,

Really like this. The childlike playful irreverence of it is striking. Love the 'puncture solemnity' line. Can't help think the 'exhorted' line would read better as:

'We return to find ourselves a space to be exhorted'.

Perhaps I've missed something....

A great read.

Cheers.
Luke

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by ray miller » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:33 am

Thanks. I quite like the poem, but the title is too clever by half. Or is trying to be.

Geoff - "Does bars have anything to do with the zoo at the end?" - It's meant to be implied, but I'm not suggesting actual parallel bars in verse 2. I think I'll just call the thing Bisseker.

David - "I think that ambiguity is there, isn't it? It seems to be a nicely floating he to me, as though God could only rarely manage it." Yes, that's exactly what I was after.

Luke - 'We return to find ourselves a space to be exhorted'. It wouldn't have the same sense would it? I'm saying we'd be instructed to find a space. You'd be saying we find a space and are then told what to do in it. I think.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Jackie » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:29 pm

Ray,

I enjoyed this lots. I think parallel is a good word. The title seems to me to refer not only to keeping life evenly balanced for children but also to the parallel dimensions children live in where they multitask between being compliant and a farting recklessness that even challenges death.

I so like
the sun fought through the foliage
and the hands that smothered noses
unsettled shafts of golden dust.
and the pungent last line of the poem.

Jackie

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Antcliff » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:42 pm

Ray,
I remember this scene..

"During All Things Bright and Beautiful
the sun fought through the foliage
and the hands that smothered noses
unsettled shafts of golden dust."

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by ray miller » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:44 pm

Thanks, Jackie, Seth. I'll give the title a reprieve then, Jackie, seeing as you've come halfway close to getting it.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Antcliff » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:02 pm

Well, on the title. Hmm. There is the gym equipment, but there is..for the two levels...the metaphorical bars around a person (him) if he is treated as a kind of animal entertainment?
Hmm.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by David2 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:38 pm

twoleftfeet wrote:Does bars have anything to do with the zoo at the end?
I was wondering that too.

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Jackie
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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Jackie » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:11 am

Hmm, parallel bars.

The clown/juggler was a stand-in for Santa; Bach/Beethoven were stand-ins for God, who drew up the school curriculum—the bars on which we stretched
our infant arabesques
?

Jackie

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Jackie » Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:24 am

About that word arabesques—I recall doing them in ballet classes, but do people really do them on parallel bars?

And I have an instinct (probably from growing up with my mother) that flags I bet and mentally changes it to I'll bet.

Jackie

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by 1lankest » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:23 am

The more I read this the more its brilliance reveals itself. A perfect evocation of primary school life, smells and all, but with a poignant, powerful undercurrent. Well done, Sir.

'we’d drink our milk and orange and return
to be exhorted to find ourselves a space.'

You are right about this line's meaning, however it is still the only part that doesn't quite work for me. I'm sure it's my blindness, nothing more.

Luke

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by ray miller » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:28 pm

Thanks all.
Seth -Parallel bars doesn't refer to gym equipment. That's the trouble with it as the title.
Jackie - the bars of the 2nd verse are meant to be musical bars.
David - the bars of the zoo are meant to be implied.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Jackie » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:07 pm

The next question is, is it necessary for the reader to "get" the one right meaning of a poem as it would be in a riddle?

Jackie

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by ray miller » Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:09 pm

Jackie wrote:The next question is, is it necessary for the reader to "get" the one right meaning of a poem as it would be in a riddle?

Jackie
I don't think it's necessary, though it's nice when you do. But to be honest, I've written poems, and this is one of them, that I don't wholly understand myself.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by twoleftfeet » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:59 am

ray miller wrote:Thanks all.
Seth -Parallel bars doesn't refer to gym equipment. That's the trouble with it as the title.
Jackie - the bars of the 2nd verse are meant to be musical bars.
David - the bars of the zoo are meant to be implied.
Ray, I think "strung the bars" rather than "hung the bars" would help - the image is less concrete.
I also think that "Bars" as a title would suffice.
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: Parallel Bars

Post by Jackie » Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:40 pm

Ray,
But to be honest, I've written poems, and this is one of them, that I don't wholly understand myself.
I like writing to find out what something in my life means, so this makes sense to me, and sometimes people's feedback helps. Of course I don't know how much of this poem is from your own experience, but you've awakened memories in so many responders here that I figure you must have lived through something similar to this. So I hope we're helping you understand.

Jackie

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